Author Archives: alexmaop

FIELD MAUNUAL for Behavioural Change_E-Learning_Alex Zuxiang Mao_s3377256




Image What is E-learning?

Before you get all excited about the ‘K.’ App, and App linkage, E-learning is not new. It’s been around in various forms for over 25 years but it really took off in the last few years, especially with the internet. However, what may be new to you is for something to help you to take back control of both your time and learning by putting the learning in your own hand. Learning at your speed, when you want and how you want to.

E-learning will help you take back control of your smartphone, so the phone it is used for a purpose to improve your knowledge, choice of career, social connections and even help you apply for higher paid jobs with your new qualifications and skills. Bonus.

Imagine using your phone to actually learn, your camera to record your projects, and a cool E-learning app to submit your work to help gain you a certificate. Imagine all those assisting you land the job interview in the company you are crazy about, while your peers are still playing games and checking Facebook Likes at the bus stop every day!  The beauty of the ‘K.’App is that it would work together with an E-Learning platform.

Language in E-learning is easy to read. It needs to be simple to support graphics, images, dialogue and role-plays, and importantly fit on your screen! Actually the language used in E-learning is real use for this world. Replicating how you speak to people, friends and peers.  Yes, your friends.

Image Why do you need to change?  What are the risks if you don’t?

E-learning is rapidly becoming the ‘must have’ for up skilling and broadening your employment horizons. The risk for not changing ones capabilities is to left behind with out-dated knowledge and unrecognised qualificatins. You may even be labelled this: ImageImage

Current figures show that people need more skills today as they move across jobs and different industries. The skills required today are to learn new technology, retraining and up skill current capacities: and even hold the social networking and communication skills to move across jobs roles seamlessly: Think LinkedIn.  Today, a typical person may have multiple jobs across their lives, whereas, a generation or two ago, it may have been two or even one job for life.Taking part in E-learning ensures you are able to recognise current learning methods, understand IT and most importantly, can operate effectively and usefully online without time.

Obviously, the motivation is there for people who want to keep up, be ahead and be the leaders within their job, career and chosen industry of practice.

E-learning will help you get there, and will ensure you have little time for those brain numbing apps cluttering your screen. Therefore, use that ‘K.’ App. we so highly recommend.

Image What is your E-learning goal? 

On completing your E-learning course, you have ideally learnt something brand new and immediately useful for your job, needed skill, money making hobby and the rest of your life!  You should also be able to apply the knowledge into your job and have the social knowhow to market and let employers know what you know.

Another immediate use is a nationally accredited qualification which is attractive to employers as it shows capabilities in your new field of study. Moreover, if the E-learning platform is a global one (for example if learnt within GE: the hub) you end up with a globally recognised certificate.

Image  Familiarise yourself with the key words and business world of E-learning

Get an idea of an LMS– Learning Management System. This is the platform used for E-learning. Questions to ask are: Is theplatform right for you and your phone? What software would you like to work with? Can it operate seamlessly with any tablet, any pc, any phone?

There are numerous software packages that support and create E-learning: Can you spot the Adobe package? It is there.


A great way to familiarise yourself more is to get onto YouTube and see what E-learning is all about. There are countless introductions to the subject, course examples and all the major providers upload contents every week to keep the students and users informed.

Begin with Moodle. Go ahead. Which Australian city did the start-up begin with? How much does it cost to use it? Yes. Nothing. It’s free. Students who design skateboards or wedding cakes can run courses on Moodle. RMIT University is there too if you poke about.

Who provides E-learning? Key E-learning providers listed below. Are they in Melbourne? 


Image 5 Steps

A: Determine your Skills Gap and Need and go for it.

This involves working out what’s missing in your life. Is it a certain Diploma or Certificate? Software, designing and drawing skills for using a Wacom? Video editing skills?  You may need to have a look at your field of study and see what you are rusty at. See where your peers are good or excelling you and what skills and knowledge employers are wanting. Get a grip on what you need to learn.

B: Seek out a provider of the material/skill/knowledge you need to learn. The provider could be local, or could even be international. Within Australia, there are many E-leaning providers. Quite simply, you may only need your smart phone to get started, get learning and get assessed.

C: Research what kind of E-learning you with to do. Key questions are:

  • Short course? Although I can’t finish it at the bus stop, can I finish it in a few weeks or less?
  • Accredited?  (i.e. do I get a Certificate or Diploma at the end?)
  • Able to complete equally on your smart phone, tablet and laptop?
  • Long term learning lasting several months or even up to a year or more?
  • Learn and be assessed at your own pace? Or is it structured.
  • How strict are the assessment dates?
  • Does the E learning platform have accountable clients and a good credibility?
  • How much assessment is involved?
  • Can evidence of assessment be submitted via video/camera directly from your smart phone?  E.g. design drawings and completed models.
  • Is there support when you cannot comprehend something such as a chart or text, have a question or if I.T. support is required due to the software not working?
  • Can you complete the learning as part of a team or group?
  • Is the text and audio done in just English or can I choose anotherlanguages?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Are there up front fees?
  • What grievance procedures or even refund options do they have?
  • Lastly, can I find what I need to learn by watching and or paying for educational videos on Youtube or another site like it? This is another E-learning option available, although it does have drawbacks.

D: Carefully consider what knowledge you most need to learn, what you need re-training in and choose a provider who will offer you the best E-learning experience. You need to also obtain a sample of what the provider offers. As mentioned, YouTube is a starting point.

E: Enroll in a course. Choose a provider and course most suited to your needs and lifestyle. Ensure the material can be fully and comprehensibly accessed on your smartphone. E.G. voice recording, videos, Flash, Adobe and that you can access MS word or equivalent for writing and viewing assessments.  Find out from other users, check chat forums and obtain feedback to see if they are good.


Talk to others, teachers and friends before doing E-learning. Can a friend join you on your new smart journey? Could you teach the wonders of the ‘K.’ App?

Critical Self-Reflection_Alex Zuxiang Mao, s3377256

My memory goes back to 14 weeks ago and is still fresh on how Dr. Varadarajan “terrified” us in the first class. My feeling at that moment was not scared or terrified, but shocked at myself how vain and ignorant I had become in the previous 15 months. I have turned a deaf ear to most of the things in the world, including people who suffered homelessness and country-lessness (Refugee was the main topic in that class). Comparing to them, what had I suffered? Only a form of “Entertainmentlessness”. I felt a little embarrassed and ashamed because I didn’t know what I should have known. I didn’t want to show how I felt. So I kept silent.

At home, I signed myself up for wordpress, twitter, set up tweetdeck, hoot suite, flipboard. I was all ready for a change.


I have always thought Twitter was a waste of time (in a way) because you spend ages reading other people’s status updates no matter you wish to or not. This for example:


In the first class, I quickly learnt that I underestimated the true value of twitter: a research tool for first hand information. However, there are tactics. I went on searching for news for “Design”. I was greeted with a lot of irrelevant and useless tweets which companies used as advertisements as well as a wild range of topics in all different aspects of design. If you want to find relatively what you are looking for,  you really need to  find one useful/meaningful tweet to you and check out all the tweets by this author. This will open the door to the information you want to find in the end. Other ways (I think would be better than what I am doing) is to download compiling tweet research tools such as TwitScoop to filter through the information, which I will try in the holidays.

Summary of  tweeting activity: My favourite author on twitter at the moment is “Gizmodo Australia” apart from its HTC ad implants.


Giving Up

All of us were asked to give up something that is relatively important to us. Firstly, I chose to give up my iphone. Mission failed immediately after 30 mins as I reached out to my phone as naturally as usual to check my Wechat updates. So I re-planned my giving up. I decided to start giving up my phone on the train first because I took trains everyday and it was a perfect start to test it. It was successful. In the beginning there was always an itch to look at the phone especially when waiting at Melbourne Central station for my shocking stopping all station train. It was deadly boring without a phone. My tactics were walking around, look at what’s in the vendor machine etc. Then I had better techniques such as taking my sketch books, read assignment briefs, write down my to-do list.

I have gained great benefit from this “time-out time with my phone”. Without all the interruptions from the smartphone, I was able to concentrate much better and put all my thoughts together, re-organise my life. I also felt incredibly fresher without looking at it for this 1-2 hour time plot. So I extended the time out. I now put away my phone at 8pm, 3 hours before I go to bed. The feeling of freshness is incredible.

 The Assignments

The reason why I chose to change people’s behaviour with their smartphones was closely related with myself: my child screams when I ignore his need for attention while checking my phone and my right thumb started shaking uncontrollably after 5 minutes of texting . Because it was personally relevant, I was able to take a deeper insight into it, visualise how this would change people’s lives and feel meaningful and passionate about it.

I enjoyed my group work very much. All of us were committed. Each one of us was assigned with different tasks. The only downside of it was that I underestimated the time we needed for editing and formatting a 5 metre-long poster. This ended up with some unchecked overtexting in some text boxes and missing parts of letters even though I checked the file twice at 11:30pm — not a very good time to do proof reading jobs.

A Little Explanation on The Field Manual

This field manual aims to raise people’s awareness of the importance to use their smartphones smartly and efficiently by doing more productive activities. It teaches people what is e-learning, why is it important, how it can improve their lives and how to access and manage it.

Overall Experience

I would recommend this course to other students, especially to those who left after the first class. It is not as scary as they thought. The biggest outcome for me is that I found motivation in this class to do something that might make a change. When I hesitate, when I think “Shall I …?”, I think this way instead now : “Why not?”.

Many thanks to Soumitri and Liam for the semester.

The greener pasture seekers


The issue of people coming to Australia is simply a natural phenomenon since the dawn of humanity when we grew legs to walk, hands to build tools and arms to paddle with. People wanting to come to this massive country will not stop, regardless which policy Australia goes with.  People inherently move to better pastures for greener grass, if that is what people are coming for.

When the earliest Aboriginal people developed their culture here, some walked through a land mass connecting northern Australia with Asia. Thousands of years later it was white settlers on a conquest of discovery and colonisation, although the colonising part was perhaps more important than the search for green grass (especially if they arrived during the height of an Australian summer with blow flies).

Today and recently, Australia faces further influxes of people in ever increasing diversities. Most notably with the Greeks after World War Two, making Melbourne the 2nd Greek capital of the world and a haven for the 2am city souvlaki.  Jews also left persecution and war in Europe and Palestine at the same time. Wars and persecution continued through time with Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Africa and various Muslim countries and now the ‘boat people’ issue is politicized for the issue of national identity and fear. If war and persecution continue, yes, people will seek greener pastures.  I say YES to that.

Refelctions of the First class

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First class… Lots of unsureness.

Dr Varadarajan kept asking how we felt. Angry, confused, frustrated, excited was not what he was looking for? Irritated was the word.That was irritating.

When I arrived in Melbourne 10 years ago, it was the first time when I really left my parents and friends– the physical and emotional support I had access to at any time. Sooner than I’d expect, one of the first things I learnt was that “everybody was afraid of changes”. People tend to cling to what they had believed, learnt and had like a shellfish clinging onto the rocks nearly everywhere. There were moments when I was scared, confused (very) and angry. Yet, I made a decision back then, I want to be a person who’s not afraid of changes. That’s why I chose this topic.

Back in the class, Soumitri was asking about subjects I felt that I knew but I didn’t. How annoying! Arab spring? How many times it was talked about at home and we said that China would never let this happen to the CCP? All I took notice was that all videos of the Egyptian riots etc were blocked on the Chinese internet. Chinese people think is the God search engine in the world because they only know a disabled Google. I tried to convert my parents to Google users, but I had to admit, in China, Baidu does work better, BUT it does not tell you the answer of what you are looking for, pathetic.

So maybe I have become one of the middle side animals that he was talking about? NO. I don’t think so. Certainly I failed to response to Soumitri’s challenge in the class but I do get “irritated”. For example, when the high speed train crashed in China and killed thousands, leaving families and friends broken hearted, it only made headline in the news for a week. Then, a ray of anti-Japanese campaign started. People seemed to had forgotten about all the many killed and who should have taken responsibility for the tragedy. Patriotism soon took over in the media. As far as I remembered, whenever there is a national scandal/tragedy, there is always an anti-Japanese or anti-American, or anti-French campaign following up sooner than you’d expect.

A designer should not be afraid of changes. He should not be afraid of making changes, to other’s work but most importantly, his own work. That, is a challenge.